Your Invitation to be a Guest Blogger for TheEdNarrative.com

For those of you who have a blog, or are thinking of some compelling idea, but aren’t sure if you want a full-on blog yet, this is for you. I haven’t landed on solid guidelines as of yet, as this is a new venture for me. However, if you write (or want to) about education, leadership, instructional coaching, curriculum development, professional development, or perhaps something that I haven’t mentioned, visit my Contact page and leave me a note about your idea. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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Some Thoughts and Resources on the TechEd Debate

I like the idea of cutting out a great deal from my family’s tech diet, but I also know that when we look at schools like those the tech execs are sending their own kids to, we are not comparing apples to apples. Any schools that are that exclusive are going to see graduates heading off to Ivies. If they didn’t, the tech execs wouldn’t send their kids there. That’s the benefit of privilege.

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On Task Design--A Post in Response to My Conversation With John Antonetti

As a follow-up from my conversation with John Antonetti, I wanted to consider how a task is different from a lesson.  I came into the conversation aware that John and his collaborators James Garver and Terri Stice had done a lot of work with the concept of task design.  In fact, John and Terri’s recent book #Powerful Task Design, is predicated upon tasks.

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Reflecting on Thankfulness

Perhaps in these situations there is gratitude for a situation being as it is, but the word “thanks” seems to be different somehow, and I can’t put my finger on why.  It is as if thankfulness is a cause/effect thing.  At least that’s how it feels as I write this.  To help clarify my thinking—what if the Grateful Dead were called the Thankful Dead?  I feel that with gratefulness there’s some aspect of contentment involved, while when it comes to thanks, there is a recognition of some transactional thing going on.

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A Meditation on Studying "The Great War" on the Western Front

That was where the German machine gunners had been.  I looked across, No Man’s Land may have been the length of an American Football field—a short walk for sure.  Now, the ground was a recently seeded potato field.  Looking out from where the Welsh line had been, the dirt was mottled with chalk deposits. Knowing the history of this place, I decided to walk from the Welsh line to the knot of trees where the machine gunners had hidden, using my thoughts to play ghost to history.  It felt strange to walk so freely over land that had been ravaged and soaked in the blood of men almost a century ago. 

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In Praise of Collegiality

But it is also an indicator of the value placed on having teachers gather together and work outside of their own buildings together. I can honestly say that within the first year I taught in this district, I got to meet more people outside of my building than I ever did in my previous school. Collegiality was just not a priority there, and getting the teachers together with each other only really happened if you were a department head for curriculum alignment and/or textbook adoptions.

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What You Say vs. What They Hear: The Importance of Clarity in Coaching

One should be aware of the distinction required in terms one uses in their profession.  As a coach, I’ve often wondered about some of the terms I’ve heard for the pairing of a coach and teacher.  For example, some models refer to the teacher as a “client.”  This seems an odd choice if no money exchanges hands.  It also implies that this is a transactional relationship that is predicated upon delivery of a concrete product. 

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The Benefit of Rehearsal

That was when I learned to deliberately script some responses or interactions I could anticipate.  Obviously, I’d developed go-to responses when a parent or student came to me with garden-variety issues.  Those were essentially scripted too, but through an evolutionary process.  The experience with the phone call list brought me to try it in other situations.  I have carried this over to my coaching work, especially that with novice teachers fresh from Ed School.

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Bloom's v. SOLO: Some Thoughts

Bloom’s problematizes learning stages by placing them in a hierarchy which seems to prioritize attainment of the pinnacle value as ideal.  With SOLO Taxonomy, the value of the learner’s knowledge attainment is not based on an arbitrary definition of complexity, but rather that knowledge’s utility to the learner’s own growth.  This model recognizes the recursive nature of authentic learning, and leaves some wiggle room for what constitutes the requisite knowledge.

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Open Question--How to Quantify the Efficacy of a Coach?

Interpreting data from Education studies can often be a test of faith more than anything.  There are a lot of studies that conflate causation with correlation.  To clarify what causation and correlation are, here’s a classic example: when ice cream sales increase, so does the murder rate.  When one reads this, it seems that increased ice cream sales cause an increase in murder….

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Play--It's Not Just For Kids...

In general, more than anything, taking advantage of those moments where play is just hovering over your shoulder, can make the difference between staying sane, and losing your mind—and vice versa.  It can feel risky, but at the same time, that’s where kids live in school, perched on the edge of risk.  Play can take risk and show it who’s boss.  It can say, “See, I told you! No big deal.” And really, how often is that really the case—that what we have blown up to monstrous proportions, never was a big deal outside our own mind?

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Some Thoughts on Teachers Pay Teachers

As an educator, I’m of (at least) two minds on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT). On the one hand, I think that because teachers are paid less than other professional fields while working so many additional hours, they should have additional opportunities to reap the benefits of their hard work. On one of the other hands, I feel that even though time is a premium for all teachers, to nickel and dime teachers so that they can build their curriculum is problematic.

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Assuming the Positive: Things to Consider About the Norming Process

I think what stymied my connection to the norming process was that I’d seen and experienced it done haphazardly. So, my view, initially, was that this was a lot of pageantry to make a group leader feel effective. I know why, now that I’m on the other end of things, these sessions didn’t work. They were one and done, poster on the wall, and then they were never spoken of again.

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The Importance of Having a Coaching Model

—Overall the goal is to provide some sort of “moral” compass for the work.  We make so many decisions everyday, that to provide the team members with some general concepts to base the rightness of their decisions simplifies the daily workload.  It also gives us a clear-cut response when our work is questioned or we are asked to do something that does not fit our mission…

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Coaching--A Difference Between Life and Death?

Dr. Atul Gawande has been very vocal about the need for professionals to use coaches in their drive toward improvement.  When we consider the very real need for strong skills in the field for doctors, it seems like there is really no reason we should not support this.  Does the same apply to educators?  Is it life and death for us?  This post explores some of those thoughts at a prime time in the year for a teacher to sign on with a coach.

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Diffusion of Innovation: Fanning the Flames

As we prepare to build a fire, a really good fire that will warm our community and provide light and social connection, we must arrange our materials intentionally, and those big pieces of wood, the ones that burn the longest and keep the best coals, those are kept to the side, not because they are not necessary, but because creating the perfect conditions to get them to ignite is our ultimate goal.

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Some Thoughts on Beginning CRT Work

CRT is not a boxed program, or a couple strategies to streamline a unit, it is harder to teach it.  And, as most people are aware, we are living in a time in which some of the socio-economic and racial biases in this country have been opened up and are raw to the touch.  Teaching this approach would have been a difficult process even without the current moment exacerbating things, but here we are and we must take the situation as it is, and not (unfortunately) as we’d prefer it to be.

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Stealing the Thinking

The new school year always brings excitement and anticipation, especially for new teachers.  It also brings Dr. Dan Mulligan. He’s able to encapsulate the bulk of best practice into a rapid-fire review, and do so in a way that holds your attention.  This time however, I heard him say something I’d never heard from him before. He said, “Don’t steal the thinking,”

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